US communications billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Media announced Wednesday it had sealed a deal to buy the iconic racing business Formula One for $4.4 billion.
Liberty said it would keep Bernie Ecclestone, who has long controlled the racing group, as Formula One chief executive, but also named Chase Carey, the vice chairman of 21st Century Fox, as the company’s new chairman.
Liberty will take control of the legendary jewel of motor sports by buying 100 percent of Formula One controlling shareholder Delta Topco from CVC Capital Partners, the British investment group that bought into Formula One in 2005.
Liberty already has interests in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team.
The deal, which involves cash, exchangeable debt and newly issued Liberty Media Group shares, represents an equity value of $4.4 billion, and gives Formula One an enterprise value of $8.0 billion, the companies said in a statement.
“We are excited to become part of Formula One,” Liberty Media president and chief executive Greg Maffei said.
“We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula One and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.”
After months of talks, Liberty agreed to keep on octogenarian Ecclestone, the mastermind behind F1’s evolution into a billion-dollar sporting business over the past 40 years.
Ecclestone, who forked over $100 million to the German authorities to end a high-profile bribery trial in 2014, will retain a minority stake in the company.
CVC co-chairman Donald Mackenzie praised Ecclestone.
“Bernie has been a wonderful CEO for us over the last 10 years,” he said in a statement.
“There have been many successes and the occasional challenge but there has never been a dull moment and we have had a lot of fun. The combined skills of Chase and Bernie mean that the successes should continue and we wish them well.”